Spring Equinox Chūn Fēn 春分
Updated: Mar 21
The spring (or vernal) equinox occurs on March 20. Not only are day and night of equal length at this time, but due to the tilt of the earth in its orbit, the sun shines in equal measure on both the southern and northern hemispheres. Spring and autumn equinoxes are special for this reason. Since the start of spring in early February, yin energy has been waning and yang growing. On the equinox they are equal. Yang will begin to emerge as dominant until it reaches its peak on the summer solstice.
It is the midpoint of spring, the season of the wood element. It is a time of growth, flexibility, and movement. In the five element system it is associated with the emotional qualities of anger and kindness/compassion and the liver meridian system. The most common liver imbalance in TCM is liver qi stagnation. Liver qi stagnation can show up as a sense of excessive stress (or feeling more overwhelmed by our 'normal' stressors), dull headaches, PMS, mild irritability, and depression. The liver can also upset the digestive system causing gas, bloating, acid regurgitation, and nausea. When liver qi stagnation is prolonged it may develop patterns called liver yang rising and liver heat . These can cause more severe headaches or migraines, burning or bloodshot eyes, excessive irritability & rage, and dizziness or vertigo.
Foods to relax liver qi stagnation...
Chamomile, mint, chrysanthemum, and nettle teas, burdock root (aka gobo), greens (especially dandelion & mustard), asparagus, springtime onions, cabbage, and broccoli.
Foods to sooth liver yang rising and liver heat... All the foods listed above plus more gently cooling foods such as citrus, watercress, and celery. Additionally, moderate intake of sour foods such as plums, cherries, hibiscus, and rose are said to "soften" tense liver qi. In situations of livery yang rising and liver heat it is especially helpful to avoid spicy, greasy foods, and alcohol when possible.
It tends to be windy during spring as the jet stream moves north. As spring blossoms open and pollen is kicked up by the wind, allergies may be returning too. We can minimize our at-home exposure to pollen by taking shoes off at the door, changing clothes after being outside, and using a nasal rinse or gargle.
Enjoying simple rose and mint tea (both soothing and invigorating to liver qi) is a perfect and easy spring time self-care beverage. Regular exercise, of course is always beneficial, but is especially helpful for the liver meridian system during the spring, whether it's qigong class, a relaxed afternoon walk or vigorous morning run. Regular acupuncture and herbs can also help our immune system stay on top of the symptoms of allergies, as well as balance the liver and ensure the harmonious flow of qi.